Home Tech As NHL deals with COVID-19 issues, is on-ice transmission among players to...

As NHL deals with COVID-19 issues, is on-ice transmission among players to blame?


The signs that COVID-19 would wreak havoc on the 2021 NHL season were there before the first puck even dropped.

Five days prior to opening night on Jan. 13, the league announced the defending Western Conference champion Dallas Stars would not open the season as scheduled because 17 players had contracted COVID-19 during training camp.

Since then, seven more teams have been sidelined because of COVID-19. The toll so far has been 35 games postponed and at least 124 players landing on the NHL’s COVID-19 list. Players are put on the list for several reasons, from testing positive for COVD-19 to high-risk close contact to quarantining following a trade. 

Meanwhile, the NBA — which started three weeks before the NHL — has postponed 29 games on account of the coronavirus. The NFL just completed 100% of its 16-game season and playoffs, albeit with 18 make-up games. MLB, the first North American pro sports league to not play in a bubble last year, postponed more than 40 games before completing its shortened season, though two teams did not play all 60 games scheduled. 


The Devils-Sabres series at the end of January seemed to contribute to 24 COVID-19 cases among players.

What may make the NHL unique is the possibility that the coronavirus is being transmitted during play. In other leagues, including major college football, there has been no documented evidence that players or officials are contracting COVID-19 as a result of competing.  

But the NHL is now acknowledging that COVID-19 may be spreading around the league as a result of on-ice contact and because the more contagious strains have infiltrated the league. 


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